The Greedy & Stingy Blue Crab
"A ruler asked Jesus, 'Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' And Jesus said to him...'Sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.' " - Luke 18:18, 22
In August, I received a crab trap for my birthday and I have enjoyed catching crabs from our neighbor's dock. My son Duncan is actually a better crab fisherman than I am. Not long ago, he went out on a May River tidal creek with a string, a hook, and a package of chicken necks, and came home with 13 blue crabs in no time flat! If you've ever been crabbing, you probably know that blue crabs virtually catch themselves. Once they grab on to the bait, all you have to do is slowly pull them in. Blue crabs are so greedy and stingy that they won't let go of the chicken neck even as they are on the way to the fisherman's cooler. Their greed leads to their death.
Sometimes we humans struggle to let go of things that lead to death, too. For the rich young ruler in Chapter 18 of the Gospel of Luke, he couldn't let go of his wealth. When he asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus told him to sell all his worldly possessions, give his wealth to the poor, and follow Him. Unfortunately for the rich ruler, he couldn't do it. Luke tells us that "when the ruler heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich" (Luke 18:23). He was like a May River blue crab - he couldn't let go of the chicken neck even though he was heading for the cooler and certain death in a boiling pot.
Jesus didn't have a problem with the ruler being rich. What Jesus was concerned about was the sin of idolatry. As our Lord and Savior, Jesus wants us to worship Him with all of our being. Putting anything above or in front of our worship of the LORD is idolatry. Putting our material wealth above our worship of God is the worship of a false idol that the Old Testament calls "mammon". Jesus said that His followers could not serve both God and money. God must always come first. The rich young ruler allowed his desire to keep his money to hamper his worship of God. That's a serious problem.
Money is not the problem; money is muscle for ministry. Giving a portion of our money to the Lord through the local church is a way to bless others with the bounty that God has provided us. Plus, it helps us to put the Lord first in our lives above our money, thereby combating idolatry. During this Stewardship season, I hope you will prayerfully consider giving of your time, your talent, and your treasure this upcoming year. And the next time you go crabbing, I hope you will think of Stewardship!